Ellen McIlwaine, blues singer and slide guitarist, dies at 75

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      Sad news for fans of Alberta-based blues artist and slide-guitar specialist Ellen McIlwaine.

      According to her publicist, McIlwaine died today of cancer at the age of 75.

      Born in Nashville, McIlwaine moved to Toronto in 1987, but spent most of her later years in Alberta.

      She released 11 albums as a solo artist, and was known for her powerful slide-guitar work.

      McIlwaine named David Lindley, Sonny Landreth, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, and dobro king Jerry Douglas as her favourite slide-guitar players, but she had a unique approach to the bottleneck.

      “I don’t do what anybody else does,” she told me in a 2001 interview from Calgary. “But probably the one who influenced me most was Johnny Winter, and he influenced me in the fact that, you know, we all make up our own tunings and go in our own directions. That’s what Johnny Winter showed me how to do."

      McIlwaine's last album was 2006's self-released Mystic Bridge, a blues/world-music hybrid featuring tabla virtuoso Cassius Khan.